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Campbell v. Paramo

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 27, 2014

JAMES W. CAMPBELL, Petitioner,
DANIEL PARAMO, [1] Warden, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, Respondent.


JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

James W. Campbell, a state prisoner proceeding through counsel, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. Campbell is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Respondent has answered, and Campbell has replied.


The Court of Appeal summarized the factual background of the case as follows:

Guilt phase
1. The prosecution
At the time of the offense, [Campbell] lived at a Stockton residence with his girlfriend, Debra; Debra's father, Therman; Debra's two sons, Scott and Eric; Debra's sister, Pam; Pam's husband, Larry (the victim); and Pam and Larry's six children, Tiffany, Katie, Larry, Andrew, Tina, and Andrea. For the sake of clarity, we refer to these family witnesses by their first names.
On the day before the killing, [Campbell] and the victim fought each other. [Campbell] gave the victim a black eye.
The following day, January 5, 2003, Debra and Katie were visiting a friend who lived down the street. Pam was also away visiting with a friend. Larry was watching a football game on television in his upstairs bedroom. Therman was also watching TV in his own bedroom. [Campbell] was fixing the living room door. [Campbell] asked Andrew to get him a hammer and a hatchet. Andrew found a hammer outside and brought it to [Campbell], but he did not find a hatchet. [Campbell] went outside, found something, and picked it up.
[Campbell] then told Andrew and Andrew's two younger sisters that he loved them. He started to cry. He hugged them, told them to play in the yard, and walked back into the house. Andrew and his sisters, however, followed [Campbell] into the house and hid behind the living room couch.
[Campbell] walked upstairs into Larry's bedroom. Andrew followed him halfway up the stairs. Andrew heard his father say to [Campbell], "What are you going to do with that, bro, chop me up?" Andrew then saw [Campbell] hit his father with a hatchet on the left side of his father's head. He ran downstairs to get his grandfather.
Andrew and Therman went over to the stairway. [Campbell] was standing on the stairs; the victim was next to him, sitting down, and not moving. [Campbell] said, "I didn't hurt your dad." Therman told Andrew and his sisters to get into the car, and they drove to pick up Debra and Katie.
When they returned, Katie jumped out of the car and ran into the house. She saw [Campbell] in the kitchen standing over the victim, who was lying on his back in a big puddle of blood. [Campbell] was holding the victim's legs. Katie asked [Campbell] what he had done, and then ran outside screaming and crying, passing Debra. Debra asked what was wrong. Katie replied, "He killed my dad."
Inside, [Campbell] walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. Debra stopped him and asked, "James, what have you done?" [Campbell] replied, "I did what had to be done." [Campbell] continued outside while Debra went into the kitchen. She squatted down, and as she shook the victim, she noticed his hands had been severed. Debra went back outside and flagged down a passing police car on routine patrol. She told the officer, "My brother, he's dead, he's in the house."
The officer, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Petricevich, stepped out of his car to speak with Debra, Katie, and [Campbell]. [Campbell] had blood on his hands. He told Officer Petricevich he had tried to help the victim. He also stated he had seen the suspect run away from the house. He described the suspect as a White male with shoulder-length dark hair and blue eyes. Officer Petricevich radioed for help, but San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies were already on their way, having been dispatched to the house in response to a call that a man was chasing another man with an ax.
Upon arriving at the scene, Deputy Sheriff Richard Tellyer noticed [Campbell] matched the description of the suspect he had been given. He and his partner drew their weapons and ordered [Campbell] to get down on his knees, and then onto his stomach, so they could handcuff him. [Campbell] dropped to one knee, but refused to get down onto both knees. Deputy Tellyer attempted to put him in a wrist or arm lock, but [Campbell] resisted, pushing backwards with his arms and yelling.
Deputy Tellyer's partner, Deputy Charles Locke, tried using a taser on [Campbell], who was now standing, but it had no effect. The deputies continued commanding [Campbell] to get down but he continued to refuse, yelling, "I didn't do it." Deputy Locke fired the taser gun several more times, but it still had no effect on [Campbell]. Deputy Tellyer struck [Campbell] several times in his knee with a baton, but that also had no effect. By then, several deputies had arrived and, by using their collective body weight, successfully wrestled [Campbell] to the ground. [Campbell], though, continued to struggle. Deputy Tellyer pepper sprayed him, and that had no effect.
It eventually took six or seven peace officers to subdue [Campbell]. They handcuffed him and placed him in a patrol car. While he was being moved, [Campbell], laughing, stated, "I did it, " and "Jesus told me to do it." He yelled, "I had to do it. I had to clean up the neighborhood."
While being transported, [Campbell] intermittently made statements that were recorded. His statements included: "Did you catch that son of a bitch who walked out the door?" "Caught him in the house. Everybody just showed up. It was crazy." "I didn't do it. The only reason I got blood on my hands is [I] tried to pick him up." "I ran in there. Oh my God. I tried getting him downstairs. Oh Jesus." "Nobody seen shit. There wasn't nobody here except me and that guy I was trying to chase, a dude with black hair and blue eyes." "I want to see my mama." "Let me see. How about the times when Robert Campbell molested me? You want to hear that too? You want to hear it all?"
On the way to the county hospital, [Campbell] was having erratic mood swings. He would get angry and violent, and then he would calm down. He would clutch his fists and threaten to kill the peace officers. In the next second, he would be crying. The parties stipulated that the blood drawn from [Campbell] on the date of his arrest was tested and found to be free of any alcohol or drugs.
Meanwhile, peace officers entering the home found the victim lying face down on the floor in the kitchen, with a lot of blood around him. His feet were lying on a black tarp. His severed right hand was on the floor next to his body; his severed left hand was inside a blanket nearby. He had large gashes on both sides of his head and on his neck. Wet blood on the floor indicated not much time had passed since the killing.
Near the body, officers found several bloody blankets and an ax. The ax handle near the head of the ax was covered with brownish blood-like stains. In the upstairs bedroom, blood was on a wall and the top of a mattress, and it stained the ceiling. It appeared the victim had been lying on the mattress with his head close to the wall when the bloodshed occurred. The lack of blood on the victim's back indicated he had been laying face up when the attack occurred. There was no indication of any struggle. It also appeared the victim had been dragged down the stairs and into the kitchen.
An autopsy disclosed the victim had suffered at least two chopping blows to each side of his head and to his neck. The wounds were very deep. The ax pierced the skull and shattered it into the brain as well as chopped off portions of the brain. One of the wounds to the right side of the head went into the brain stem area, which would have caused instant death. The ultimate cause of death was "[m]ultiple chop injuries consistent with an ax." The hands had been severed after the victim died.
2. The defense
[Campbell's] defense included the testimony of a neighbor, Frank Castleman; Dr. Kent Rogerson, defendant's psychiatrist; and himself.
Castleman testified that at about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. on the day of the murder, [Campbell] visited with him at his house for a couple of hours. [Campbell] was upset and crying. He told Castleman he had been molested when he was younger. He also told him he believed certain events were occurring at his home. Describing [Campbell] at that time, Castleman said, "It just wasn't him."
A short while after the visit, Castleman saw Debra come out of her house. She fell to her knees, screaming. [Campbell] was already outside. Castleman asked [Campbell] if everything was all right. [Campbell] said it was. Then the police arrived and fought with [Campbell]. Castleman believed the police arrived at [Campbell's] house about 15 or 20 minutes after [Campbell] left his house.
Dr. Rogerson evaluated [Campbell] and his records. He diagnosed [Campbell] with bipolar disorder in some remission, post-traumatic stress disorder secondary to sexual and physical abuse as a child, and a personality disorder not otherwise specified. [Campbell] also had a history of methamphetamine and marijuana abuse.
Dr. Rogerson explained that bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness where the patient's mood shifts between mania and major depression. Under the manic phase, the patient is hyper, restless, and feels grandiose, as if he has special powers. He may reach a delusional belief that he is God-like. A person in a very agitated psychotic state can be dangerous. When in a depression phase, the patient has lost all joy, feels worthless and hopeless, and begins to consider suicide. A person with bipolar disorder goes back and forth between these two poles of mania and depression. A person such as [Campbell] could experience abrupt shifts between mania and depression.
In response to a hypothetical question, Dr. Rogerson stated the condition of bipolar disorder would clearly have an effect on a person's ability to form intent. Moreover, that person's ability to form intent could be affected by certain outside traumatic stressors, such as recalling having been physically or sexually abused in the past.
The manic phase of bipolar disorder does not come and go in a minute. If it does, it is not bipolar disorder. [Campbell's] mood did not change quickly after the homicide. [Campbell] had been increasingly ill leading up to the event. References in records kept by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office Medical Unit indicated he was recognized as being very psychologically ill on the day of the homicide and for some time afterward. While at the county jail, [Campbell] was observed licking his own urine, sprinkling it as holy water, screaming, and yelling. These symptoms of manic behavior did not settle down for a number of weeks after beginning antipsychotic medications.
Dr. Rogerson stated a person with post-traumatic stress disorder can have a sudden onset. If something or someone precipitates a memory or recollection of an earlier trauma, the person can actually act out the trauma again or feel all of the anxiety, fear, or rage he originally felt. This could occur, for example, when a person ...

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